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Really interesting thread.

Living on the North West coast of Wales, I could really do with a 180 degree skycam to watch weather fronts sweeping towards me so I can do something before the rain comes!

What I'm not sure about is which way to jump, webcam, or video camera with capture card.

I have the obshed pc connected to another in the house with windows 7 remote desktop, which is how I can run image capture and oag from the warmth of the study.

What software would work best for my setup, webcam, or video capture/monitor? And would they interfere with usb data feeds from both present cameras?

Huw

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Hi,  I started to build my own all-sky camera lately. Here is the link http://astro.galleria.fi/blog/26/DIY+All-Sky+Camera/ It uses QHY5 L II and fisheye. Casing is from cookiejar and dome from eBay.

Dayglo pink.  It's the only option James

I have a shutter that works, the meter movement is araldited to the edge of the pcb, and it all fits the existing casing. need to sort out the anti dew, then it might all work H

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Really interesting thread.

Living on the North West coast of Wales, I could really do with a 180 degree skycam to watch weather fronts sweeping towards me so I can do something before the rain comes!

What I'm not sure about is which way to jump, webcam, or video camera with capture card.

I have the obshed pc connected to another in the house with windows 7 remote desktop, which is how I can run image capture and oag from the warmth of the study.

What software would work best for my setup, webcam, or video capture/monitor? And would they interfere with usb data feeds from both present cameras?

Huw

This is something I have been thinking about. I have a couple of quite sensitive CCTV cameras as well as an LX modded webcam. The CCTV cameras I've got are not quite sensitive enough for night viewing though. They pick up distant street lights and about one or two of the brightest starts/planets but that's about it. There are more sensitive ones available as mentioned earlier in this thread - for a price!

I haven't yet got round to trying the modified webcam but I think that's the way I'll probably go.

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I've been looking at the 1004x camera at RF concepts, I've seen references to modding it for gain and exposure time, but it still needs a capture card and software.

From my limited research to the lx modding of webcams (please correct me if I'm wrong), an exposure stop command is sent via a pin on a serial port. For a sky-cam, would a monostable derived off frame sync on the camera work the same way? Then I'd still need viewing software...

Huw

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I've been looking at the 1004x camera at RF concepts, I've seen references to modding it for gain and exposure time, but it still needs a capture card and software.

From my limited research to the lx modding of webcams (please correct me if I'm wrong), an exposure stop command is sent via a pin on a serial port. For a sky-cam, would a monostable derived off frame sync on the camera work the same way? Then I'd still need viewing software...

Huw

I looked into this one a while back. It seems you turn off the sensor readout while you take a long exposure and when you turn it back on it sends the LX frame then continues to send normal frames at the normal frame rate. So you have to separate the required frame from the rest in the software. Note also that this camera works in interlaced mode and the LX frame is only half as many lines as a normal full frame. This halves the vertical resolution which is already a bit lower than the PAL TV standard. IE. you get one field, to use TV parlance, or half a frame of lines - every other line of a normal picture.

The LX mod for the 1004x is rather more tricky than the Philips webcam mod and needs several very narrow PCB tracks cut and soldered onto. Not a job for someone with tired old eyes like mine!!

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Having spent the last few nights rushing in and out the house to gather a few hours of data for an image, I could REALLY do with a camera I could view from the lounge, and do something before the clouds blot out the sky, not after Phd tells me it's no longer seeing stars. very tempted to buy a 1004x board cam to experiment with, but if father xmas is reading this, could I respectfully point him to the following website, and grovellingly remind him that I've been a very good boy indeed this year :)

SBIG 340 Color All Sky Camera with Lens - AllSky-340 Fisheye - OPT Telescopes

Huw

(well you never know...)

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The acrylic all-sky dome is heated to keep dew away and dry raindrops quickly. This dome is inexpensive and easily replaced as needed.

I guess a few well placed resistors on a 12v feed would do the job.

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Had a thought outside the box, tried my qhy5 tonight, don't have a fisheye for it, but had an old lens off a video bullet camera.

I reckon that with a proper lens it would make a superb all sky cam. Just got a new guide camera, so I was going to sell the qhy, not now.

Huw

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Yes, looks promising, I'm using qgvideo for display,which seems to do the biz.

If I might also put out a call to code monkeys, how about a video display app with bad pixel subtract? Now that would be cool. (unless somebody can point me to one that already exists)

Huw

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I guess PHD can do that can it not? By taking a dark frame. Then you've still got the ability to loop 2/3.. second exposures. Might be helpful?

Michael

:) Some days, if I had a brain I'd be dangerous!!!!

Of course PHD will do it, just tried it now, I can have two instances open, one guiding, one viewer only, and they run without interfering with each other. I'd never tried dark subtraction in PHD, seems to leave behind some hot pixels, but will need more playing.

1.8mm fisheye lens ordered off fleabay, and a 100mm acrylic dome. I have an ip68 round junction box, 110mm diameter left over from a job on the house, just the job for the housing.

Huw

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Hi,

I think the PHD dark frames are only subtracted 'internally' to stop it tracking hot pixels - I don't think they change the displayed image - but I may be wrong, can't remember where I read it..

I got my Hong Kong 1.8mm lens from Ebay on friday - it fits my SPC880 perfectly. I think the FOV is dependent on sensor size partly, because it is not 180 deg. I estimate its about 120 deg. Still, the lens seems very good quality - metal housing and glass elements, even has a little lens cap - bargain for about 5 quid! The image looks good too - no obvious colour fringes etc.

Now - does anyone know where I can get a freeware webcam capture program that can control the LX mod and upload images to the web???

Theo

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I got my Hong Kong 1.8mm lens from Ebay on friday - it fits my SPC880 perfectly. I think the FOV is dependent on sensor size partly, because it is not 180 deg. I estimate its about 120 deg. Still, the lens seems very good quality - metal housing and glass elements, even has a little lens cap - bargain for about 5 quid! The image looks good too - no obvious colour fringes etc.

Now - does anyone know where I can get a freeware webcam capture program that can control the LX mod and upload images to the web???

Theo

I have received my lens today. Did a quick test and came to the same conclusion. It's definitely NOT 180 deg. 120 at best but more like 90. Probably enough for my location where I have many trees and bushes all around. But couldn't really call it all-sky cam. Bit disappointed...

Nevertheless, I'll install it and see, on a clear night, whether an LX modded SPC900 is sensitive enough...

Regarding software, SharpCap does the LX control. That's what I'm testing with. But it doesn't upload to websites. I've not heard of a program that does both. I would be interested too if someone finds one...

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As you say Yesyes, a 1.8 mm lens won't 180 degree views, 120 is closer to it on a 1/4 inch chip, waiting to see what it gives me on the 1/2 inch qhy5. Probably not much more, depends on the image circle, but like you, I've got trees etc to contend with, will report back when it arrives.

Huw

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There seem to be programs that wil automatically upload screen shots (or window shots). Maybe that would work? Anyone know of a free one of those either??

My amibition was to connect some device server to wirelessly upload my sky shots, and leave the camera on my observeratory shed roof, but can't find one of those on the cheap either. Without a whole spare PC to leave outside this project is looking unlikely...

Theo

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My amibition was to connect some device server to wirelessly upload my sky shots, and leave the camera on my observeratory shed roof, but can't find one of those on the cheap either. Without a whole spare PC to leave outside this project is looking unlikely...

Theo

I'm thinking of having the camera on my obsy roof though with a computer in my warm room. I have most of the stuff required but without LX control ATM but I think I may be able to work that out. I'm thinking Linux and running the LX and the FTP upload from cron jobs. Probably program it in Python. I'll report back when I get time to sort things out - too busy ATM.

It's an interesting project which I'll be glad to have a go at - it's in the queue :)

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I was just wondering if the LX control could come from a different program than the one acquiring the video from the webcam. If that was possible, then we could use standard webcam software that uploads to a web page (like Gina's webcams) and control the exposure from another app.

But I think this might not be possible. As far as I remember the webcam would still deliver video at the configured frame rate but would send black frames while it is doing long exposures. Then at the end of each long exposure it would send one frame with the image, then carry on sending black.

Worth a try though...

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I was just wondering if the LX control could come from a different program than the one acquiring the video from the webcam. If that was possible, then we could use standard webcam software that uploads to a web page (like Gina's webcams) and control the exposure from another app.

But I think this might not be possible. As far as I remember the webcam would still deliver video at the configured frame rate but would send black frames while it is doing long exposures. Then at the end of each long exposure it would send one frame with the image, then carry on sending black.

Worth a try though...

Ah!! I wonder... I haven't tried the LX working as yet. With the CCTV camera LX mod, video output is suspended during LX and resumes after, starting with a field of LX followed by fields of normal video. Timing captured video fields/frames to select one individual field would be difficult or even impossible. As for a USB webcam, I don't know. I haven't had much experience of USB devices - it always seems a bit hit and miss to apply special programming to these. I do have a Python app working with my USB weather station but the actual USB coding I got from someone else. I shall be very interested in following this topic and seeing how LX modified webcams work out.
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